Pistons Mailbag - Thursday, February 23, 2012 - Page 2

Pistons.com editor Keith Langlois answers your questions about the Pistons and NBA. Click here to submit your questions - please include your name, email address and city/state on the form. Return to the Mailbag homepage.

We reserve the right to edit your question for the sake of brevity or clarity.

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Marius (Arnold, Mich.): Are the Pistons playing better? Or are they merely playing bad opponents?

Langlois: They beat Boston twice – Boston, admittedly, without Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass – and pushed San Antonio to the wire. Some of these wins have been pretty convincing. No question, the schedule eased up after they played predominantly playoff opposition during the 4-20 start. So the answer is both. But you never play in a vacuum in the NBA. There are always a handful of variables in play – home or road, schedule relative to the opponent’s schedule, injuries, individual matchups, etc. Game-to-game snap shots, even week-to-week snap shots, can be wildly deceiving. Bottom line, the Pistons were a better team in February than they were in January. My guess is they’ll be a better team still in March and again in April.

Joe (Colorado Springs, Colo.): I’m sure I’m not the only one asking, but what’s the deal with Charlie V? The last thing I heard was that he has a sore ankle. Is he coming back?

Langlois: Charlie has said a few times over the last week or so that he’s been very encouraged by the progress his ankle has shown. He’s indicated that he thinks he’ll be ready to come back fairly soon. From training camp through the middle of February, it was a lingering and baffling injury. Some days, Villanueva said, it would feel like it was getting better, the next day he thought it had to be a broken bone. The Pistons had him in an immobilizing boot for parts of the day for a few weeks and he was undergoing various other treatments. We should know more after the All-Star break.

Denny (Shelby Township, Mich.): I’ve heard rumors the Lakers might be willing to trade Pau Gasol. What do you think about a trade of Gasol and Darius Morris for Stuckey, Bynum and Prince? It would give the Lakers point guards who can penetrate, which they lack, and improve their defense. Gasol would be a young big man who would complement Monroe.

Langlois: I’m not sure either side jumps at that trade, Denny. Gasol is a remarkable talent and, yes, I think his skill set would mesh very nicely with Monroe’s. So what’s the problem? He’s hardly the “young” big man you claim; Gasol will be 32 in July and he’s been taking the NBA pounding since 2002. He probably has at least a few more high-level years left, which makes him much more valuable to a team ready to win now than to one in a place where the Pistons are currently – hoping to work their way back into playoff consideration by next season. Prince, Stuckey and Bynum definitely would beef up the depth of a thin Lakers roster, but by all indications the Lakers hope to use Gasol as a chip to get a player like Dwight Howard or Deron Williams. That could be wishful thinking. If that type of deal doesn’t materialize by the March 15 trade deadline, I suppose the Lakers could then turn to a Plan B that might include using Gasol as bait to land three or four solid players to sprinkle through the lineup and hope Andrew Bynum stays healthy. That would be an easier course for them to take if they hadn’t dumped Lamar Odom for a trade exception. If the Pistons were to get involved in a Gasol trade, my guess is that it would be as a third-party facilitator that would net them one or two younger pieces to go with their Greg Monroe-Brandon Knight core.

Rickey (Detroit): We could use a big man like Cole Aldrich. He’s in OKC as the 12th man. I think he could be our power forward of the future if we’re not lucky enough to get Anthony Davis. Seriously, this is the next Most Improved Player candidate in the NBA.

Langlois: He’s buried behind some pretty good big men in OKC – Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, Nick Collison and Nazr Mohammed eat up all the available rotation minutes. Aldrich appears in about one of every three games, usually in garbage time. I expected Aldrich to evolve into a solid NBA backup big man by this point, with the potential to fit as a starter, and maybe it’s nothing more than too many better players ahead of him. I think it’s a leap to say, based on the evidence at hand, that he’s in line to be the MIP or the answer for the Pistons. Ideally, the Pistons would be better served by adding a big man who represents more of a shot-blocking threat than Aldrich. But at the right price – OKC got a future second-rounder for a similar prospect, Byron Mullens – he’s sure worth a look.

Anthony (Clinton Twp., Mich.): Let’s assume the Pistons wind up in the lottery despite their improved play. The biggest need is a big man to complement Monroe. If you get the No. 1 pick, Davis is the obvious answer. But if not? Do you sign a player like Kaman by using the amnesty, perhaps, on Charlie V? Do you attempt to trade for a young player like Biyombo?

Langlois: It’s likely that more man-hours among Joe Dumars’ staff have been spent on that pursuit than any other since the day after last year’s draft, Anthony. There might not be a perfect solution – there rarely is, outside of dumb luck in winning the lottery in the rare year where a once-a-generation player suits your need – but there’s a workable solution out there. In all probability, the first crack at it comes with the draft. (I say that because I think it’s a long shot that a long-term frontcourt solution can be had by the March 15 trade deadline given the trade material at Joe D’s disposal and the market for big men.) There will be possible answers in free agency after that. And then there will be many more trade possibilities that come available over the off-season.

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